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Africans spend a lot of money for the funeral of their relatives. In Cameroon, these ceremonies vary according to regions and ethnic groups. But each time, expenditures are enormous. Most of it is for the purchase of food and drinks to restore the guests. A way of honoring the dead and mark the minds of those who knew them.
Honoring the memory of the deceased at any price. Africans spend astronomical sums to provide funeral prestigious relatives who have left. Cameroonians are far to deviate from this rule. All gather, sometimes for several years, enough to prepare a feast worthy of the name of their beloved.
"I lost my mother last Nov. 11. I will organize a big celebration for his funeral in a year's time to raise enough money, "said Michel, 36. Wait a year is nothing unusual. Some even take several years to plan this event. An event that takes place differently in different regions.
Michael is originally Beti. In this ethnic group from the center, funerals take place in three stages. "Small funeral held nine days after the burial of the dead. On this occasion, the family eat at the grave of the person who just passed away. Friends and guests settled villagers in general below. During large funerals, which are usually held between small funeral and commemoration (first anniversary of the death, ie), the family prepares a party where a Mass is said, "he says.
In the South, "funerals are often sober and also place a week after the funeral. The tradition is less present, just as in the north, "says Simon-Pierre, 36. In Western countries, many families are wealthy. The festivities may therefore take place one or two weeks after the burial of the deceased parent. The cultural heritage has remained strong: the ceremony begins Friday evening and ends Sunday. According to Michael, there is at least one major festival in this region every weekend.
Invited by thousands
Whatever the area of the place funerals, traditional dancers and musicians are always on hand to entertain guests. The number of guests varies mainly according to the rank of the deceased and the prestige of his family. The most important ceremonies, which commemorate the death of a king or a village head, brew and nearly 8,000 souls. Mid-sized together between 3000 and 4000. So many mouths to feed and water.
And a lot of money to spend. If for the funeral of a poor Cameroonians lost a tree cut down to make themselves the coffin, the funeral day "everyone is doing as it can to provide food and drink," said Simon-Pierre. More generally, some spend more than a wedding, while others border on collapse in memory of the deceased. Relatives and friends of the dead contribute financially, and spontaneously, to cover costs, even if the family has planned savings. A collection that runs from the date of death to the funeral. In the case of the death of a politician, the government helps pay for the festivities.
When one loves, one does not count
The difference between rich and poor remains palpable when paying the bill. "Families who have limited means provide a snack," says the young Cameroonians. They buy, for example, a goat and twenty liters of red wine to restore their guests. If we add to this food, they spend an average of 250 000 FCFA (about 381 euros, ed.) Wealthy families from the west, they make copious funeral. They will invite dignitaries and sometimes can take between 10 and 25 million CFA francs, with which they buy goats, beef, venison, chicken and all kinds of drinks. "
And it is the liquor that cost the most. Families who have manage to have good prices. Spirits are the most popular "red wine and white wine locally (made from palm sap). But we also drink hard liquor, "said Simon-Pierre. A very influential man of the west have even brought a container full of vintage champagne for his guests ... But Cameroonians have a small fondness for whiskey, locally and internationally. Expensive tastes that are expensive. "A bottle of our Ricard worth between 5000 and 5500 FCFA. For whiskey, the price is around 6000 FCFA, "says Christopher Polet, head of Pernod-Ricard in Central Africa.
Alcohol brand sponsor funeral
A fortune when you know that the average wage is around 150,000 CFA per month. But providing its guests with bottles of foreign brand is very popular and increases the prestige of the ceremony. A vein that the company Pernod Ricard operates exclusively in Cameroon for nearly two years. Especially in the west. "One of our staff told us there was an interesting market in this area given the magnitude of the funeral taking place. We sponsor the funeral especially important that bring in money, such as kings or headmen. We offer an aperitif and, in return, the family agrees to buy our products for the ceremony, "said Christophe Polet.
If all goes well, Michael will provide the party of his dreams for his mother next year. He does not plan to organize a funeral unless "a million FCFA. He intends to make an unforgettable remembrance. For love, but also to burn the memory of his mother in memories forever.